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Five Reasons the Oilers Will Win

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
6 months ago
We are just over 24 hours away from puck drop between the Oilers and Flames. It’s the first playoff Battle of Alberta since 1991 and both cities are buzzing. It’s going to be a wild few weeks in this province as the two teams go head-to-head with a spot in Western Conference Finals on the line.
With all the excitement going around, I figured I’d share five reasons why I think that the Oilers will come out on top in this series. The playoffs are a fun time, so why not spread some optimism?

1 – CHANGE OF PACE

The Flames were pushed to seven games by the Dallas Stars largely because of @Jake Oettinger. The Stars goaltender had an all-time performance in the first round posting a .954 save percentage in the losing effort.
The Stars play a different style than the Oilers. Dallas had the lowest shots for/60 in the first round with 27.25. The Oilers were fourth in the first round at 36.62. Almost an extra ten shots every 60 minutes of 5v5 play! 
Dallas seems content trying to grind down their opposition and their focus seemed to be more on preventing scoring chances than pushing the pace. When the Oilers are on their game, they push the pace and drive play, especially with their big guns on the ice. The change from playing seven games against Dallas to having to jump into action against the Oilers could be tough for Calgary and could lead to Edmonton stealing a game early in the series.

2 – McDAVID MAGIC

@Connor McDavid seemed to find another level in the Oilers’ first-round series against the LA Kings. You could argue he really hit another gear in the third period of game five when he dragged the team to a late game comeback and forced overtime.
It really feels like McDavid is borderline unstoppable right now. He was on the ice for each of the Oilers’ final ten goals in the series. THAT’S INSANE! McDavid was solely driving the offensive production in the final few games of that series. 
The other thing is that McDavid has absolutely torched the Flames throughout his career. In 34 career games against Calgary, he has 26 goals and 21 assists. He also has a knack for coming through at big moments with a total of nine game-winning goals against the Flames in his career. He has scored the game winner in over 25% of his career games about Calgary. He dominates them and that will be a major factor in this series if the Oilers win.

3 – SPECIAL TEAMS

May 14, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal by defensemen Cody Ceci (5) against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period in game seven of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
The Oilers had the second-best powerplay in the first round of the playoffs, scoring on 36.8% of their powerplay attempts. The Flames were all the way down at 8.3%. Edmonton’s powerplay has the ability to steal them games whereas I don’t believe the Flames’ powerplay has that same ability. The Oilers were inconsistent this season but when they’re hot, they’re the best in the league. The Flames have a good powerplay, but it’s just not on the same level.
Now, the Flames do have a good penalty kill. They finished sixth in the league in PK% during the regular season and were over 90% in round one against Dallas.
It’s close, but I give the Oilers the edge in the special teams department and that could make a big difference.

4 – BREAK-EVEN GOALTENDING

If you gave me the choice between Jacob Markstrom and Mike Smith, I would obviously choose Markstrom. He’s a Vezina finalist for a reason. At the same time, the gap is probably a lot closer than what people think. Their regular season stats, or their age, or their contracts don’t matter at all right now. 
Right now, these two goalies are close. Markstrom had a .943 sv% in round one and Smith was at .928. Even down the stretch through March and April, Smith was better than Markstrom. In the final two months of the regular season, Smith had a league best .936 sv% and was second in GAA with 2.13 (among goalies who played at least ten games in that stretch). Markstrom in that same span was 11th in the league with a .915 SV% and he was fifth in GAA.
Markstrom is the better goalie overall, but Smith is playing at an elite level right now and I think Smith can at least keep it close in terms of his head-to-head play with the Flames goalie.

5 – IT’S THE PLAYOFFS BABY

I said I’m being optimistic here, so let me just wrap this up by saying IT’S THE PLAYOFFS BABY! Anything can happen! The models and the experts may be picking the Flames to win this series, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs are always wildly unpredictable. 
So have a good time, cheer your heart out, and really just enjoy the first playoff edition of the BOA in over 30 years because who knows when we’ll get the next one.
Anything can happen in the playoffs and that right there should give you a reason to think that the Oilers can win this best-of-seven against the Flames.

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